Coyotes to purchase Springfield Falcons and move them to Tucson

AP
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The Arizona Coyotes have signed an agreement to purchase the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, the club announced this morning.

The Coyotes, confirming an earlier report, say they intend to move the Falcons to Tucson, where they’d play at the Tucson Convention Center starting next season.

“The agreement is contingent upon AHL Board of Governor approval, finalizing closing conditions, and signing an arena lease agreement,” the Coyotes wrote in a release.

Falcons owner Charlie Pompea has confirmed the sale agreement to The Republican newspaper in Springfield.

From The Republican:

Pompea did not disclose terms of the deal but said it was definite. Owner of the Falcons since December of 2010, he spoke in tones tinged with regret but said he was convinced that he and his staff had done their best.

“I really wanted this to work. We needed, at the very least, an average of 4,000 fans per game. We didn’t come close.

“I love the fans we had, and I will always be grateful to them. I’m very sad and unhappy, but I want it known I don’t have any gripes. I just got to the point where I didn’t think the city could support a pro hockey team.”

The sale of the Falcons does not assure that hockey is dead in a city that has housed an AHL team since 1936, with the exception of a brief hiatus in the early 1950s. Pompea said some NHL teams have expressed interest in relocating their minor league affiliation in Springfield, but he did not elaborate.

The Falcons became the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate a year ago, after the Falcons’ previous NHL parent, the Columbus Blue Jackets, signed a deal with Lake Erie.